________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 1 . . . . September 4, 2009


Text Me a Strategy: How to Encourage Students to Develop the Skills They Need to Become Independent Learners.

Kathy Paterson.
Markham, ON: Pembroke, 2009.
128 pp., pbk., $24.95.
ISBN 978-1-55138-233-3.

Subject Heading:
Independent study.

Professional: Grades 3-12.

Review by Carrie Subtelny.

*** /4

The intent of Text Me a Strategy is to help teachers build autonomy in their students as life-long learners and thinkers: "[This book] has taken the most effective strategies, those tested in the classroom and proven to work, and presented them according to the problems or problematic areas they best address" (p. 5). Paterson hopes to alleviate some of the stress for teachers as they are often caught doing copious amounts of Internet searching when planning lessons. Paterson seems to have achieved her goal.

     The book is divided into themes – learning, communicating, organizing, discovering, understanding, creating, and living well. The last two chapters explore individuality and stress management, encouraging self-wellness as well as ‘caring for others,' including caring for the earth. These chapters were a highlight for me as Paterson took the time to consider the needs of the whole student, and it is often these variables - stress, worry, nervousness - that can hinder learning. As well, her conscious and explicit effort to encourage ‘care' and positive thinking encourages both teachers and students to reflect on and to remind us of our responsibility to self, others, and the world.

     This eclectic text was also uniquely published with each strategy clearly written and outlined. I like how the strategies are set up on each page in a linear fashion; step-by-step instructions are provided for instruction. For example, "Blasting Mental Blocks" for writing the CUD strategy is explained (CUD – Careful Use of Downtime). The purpose of CUD is "… to mindfully stimulate creative thought during the many moments of downtime we have daily" (p.90). The subheading "Strategy Display" follows which lists four points to explain to the class (summarized for review purposes) –

  • Recognize when you are having downtime
  • Consciously focus your mind on a problem to solve
  • Keep thinking about the problem …paying attention to the many random thoughts that will race through your mind
  • Jot down ideas immediately…

     Following this list are "Quick Tips," listed in bullet form, which explores the notion of ‘down time' which is necessary before teaching this strategy in depth.

     Each strategy includes the "Purpose," a "Strategy Display" and "Quick Tips."

     The final pages of the text list for teachers possible problems they may be observing in their students' learning behaviour in the classroom. Some examples include "Getting Focused," "Committing to Memory," "Figuring Out Narratives" and "Making Sense of Text. "Underneath each ‘problem' Paterson references the chapter and strategy to go to.

     I would recommend this book for classroom teachers as a good resource to have in their classrooms or for schools to house in their professional library. The only thing missing from this text is a notation that states an appropriate grade level for use. Each strategy could include a recommended grade level. Paterson could have also included this in her title or introduction. I am assuming that these strategies could be used with grades 3-12. Regardless, adaptations can be easily applied to any of them in order to suit any grade and/or content area.


Carrie Subtelny is a reading clinician at the Child Guidance Clinic in the Winnipeg School Division in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.